Set to meet 5 cents per kilowatt-hour


With PV prices plummeting, leaving both thin film and CPV scrambling, it may seem counterintuitive that a CPV technology is first to the plate with 5 cents a kilowatt-hour solar.

But that is just what Cogenra’s concentrated T14 system claims to do, in part by leveraging the plummeting prices of silicon.Cogenra believes it has set a record with their new low concentrating photovoltaic T14 system being built in the Solar Zone at the University of Arizona (UA) Tech Park. Washington Gas will own the 1 MW system and sell its estimated 1,986 megawatt-hours a year through a PPA with Arizona’s Tucson Electric Power.

“We believe we pretty much are on track to hit the SunShot goal with this system within a year,” Mani Thothadri, Cogenra VP of Product Management, tells PV Insider. “In good DNI areas like Tucson it is about 5 cents a kilowatt hour.”

Novel technologies in real-world situations

The UA Solar Zone is set up to make it possible to compare the performance of novel solar technologies in real world pilot programs. The T14 project will be completed in 2014.

Cogenra has straddled both CPV and CSP, with a concentrated silicon PV solution that also harnesses heat waste to provide additional (co-gen) energy. Despite wasting that heat resource, Cogenra has met this low cost target for pure CPV.

The company’s technology team, which came from the silicon semiconductor industry, believes strongly in silicon, and rode silicon’s plummeting prices to deliver these savings. In its T14 project, the firm has adapted its heat harnessing technology to draw heat away from the concentrated PV cells, purely to amplify efficiency.

Each 18 kilowatt system is 45 meters long, and is constructed of shorter segments; “modules” each 2.5 meters long. A mirror trough is centred on a tracker torque tube and concentrates 14 suns on a narrow receiver (a strip of highly efficient silicon PV cells) facing down into a parabolic mirror. The IP is in the liquid cooling process that draws heat out and away, allowing for the maximum energy output of the concentrated photovoltaics.

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